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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Packing and Using the RIGHT Tool

 Guest Post by Karin

Hello there peeps!  Karin here....Didja notice I didn't start off with my usual "Hey there y'all....?" That's because I'm not in Texas at the moment.   I'm in Florida, in the camper... hence, this blog post about having just the right tools...WITH YOU.  Ha - that was around the block a little, you still with me?

Kelly is kinda swamped right now, busy doing that chore that all good American citizens do - figuring her taxes.  And if she's anything like us, that's gonna take a while, so she asked if I could pop in and chat with y'all a bit.  She knew I was in the camper, but she's never seen it in person, and she has no idea just how much stuff I can actually cram in here.  Let me just say, it's a whole lotta stuff. Trouble is, it's scattered throughout all the cabinets, all the cubbies, and even in the underbelly.  Not to mention, taking up valuable (and limited!) floorspace:
Here is  a small glimpse for you - note the 6 x 24 ruler and bag of fabric in the chair, the ironing/notions station, the green tote filled with batting and other products, the toolbox of sewing tools next to the box of Kleenex under the TV (beside the all-mighty popcorn popper), the other box of notions on TOP of the green tote box, and finally, the yellow cutting mat, standing upright in front of the cabinet under the TV.  Yes, the cabinet holds mailing supplies, so, really, that's more sewing stuff too.  This is ONLY the back end of the camper!  What's that silver box?  Oh, that's the portable ice maker.  Which I have yet to even turn on, 2 weeks into our little excursion.  That's weight and space I could have used, darn it!
Oops, there I go digressing again.  Back to the importance of having the right tool at the right time. See those colorful strips I've got laid across the ironing station?  My neighbor, long ago, asked me to make her a table topper just like the one I'd already made her, but in different colors.  She wanted lighter, more summery colors.  (yes, she asked me to do it last summer, but life happens, ya know?)  I figured this would be a great time to get it done for her, so I packed up all the fabrics and batting.  Of course, I just grabbed extra batting, 'cuz I might need more for something else, right? I knew we'd be on the road a few days, and when we reached our destination, there were no stores close, so I had to take everything I thought I might need.  Apparently, I didn't think it through, because I didn't bring the pattern.  Arrrgh.  But, hey, I brought the ice maker, and if it ever warms up enough, I just might want ice in my's really not likely.

Generally, when I buy fabric for an intended purpose (as was this fabric purchase), I stash the pattern in the bag with the fabric, along with any necessary notions or trims.  Then, when I'm ready to start the project, everything is right there at my fingertips and I don't have to waste time hunting things down.  Generally.  Apparently, NOT this time.  No pattern in sight, and I couldn't remember stashing it anywhere inside the camper by itself.  No sweat, I have a friend in Canada, who originally taught me how to do this, and she'll have access to HER pattern and she can remind me what I need to do.   Oh yeah baby, it pays to have friends!  She got right back to me that night, with some pictures and sketchy instructions.

I could figure that out, knowing my strips needed to be 1.5" wide, and width of fabric.  And I'd brought the can of starch - I did remember how important starching the fabric was (should you try to do this on your own, let me just say you want that fabric to be as stiff as cardboard, if at all possible.).

But I needed to know the size of those triangles, or it would come out all wonky.  Wonky's just not my cup of tea, and math is just beyond me, so once again, my friend came through for me:
Cool beans.  I got my strips cut and I got my strips sewn together.  
They don't look too bad - that little wrinkle is simply from being folded, it's not a distortion in my sewing or anything.  So it's time to grab my rulers and cut those puppies up!  Wait...where's my ruler? You know, my special Creative Grids 12.5 Square ruler that I bought just for this project and has the tape markings on it already and I've never used for any other project.  (That's a big deal because, living in a camper for so long, I got used to items serving multiple purposes, and that ruler has only been used ONE TIME, for ONE PROJECT, and it's kind of a sore subject with my tightwad frugal self.)

I started looking high and low, in and out.  One whole wardrobe drawer is crammed full of sewing stuff - stabilizer rolls, stabilizer and topping BOLTS (yes, bolts of it!), more thread (not counting the THREE cases of thread stashed under the sofa - oh, wait, there's another place my ruler might be!'s not), 2 quilt tops in differing stages of "put together," a plastic bulk-salad greens box full of cut-up squares for one of those quilts, 2 bolts of FABRIC for said quilts, and my other 6 x 24 inch ruler (2, because just 1 wouldn't be enough).  Now, if you're getting the idea that maybe I packed more sewing stuff than I did clothing, don't get me wrong...I did not.  My closet is crammed full of just about every stitch of clothing I own - we were going to be gone about a month, maybe two, and I didn't want to waste valuable time doing laundry. 

Hmmm..closet, maybe the ruler's in the closet?'s not there, either.  Under the sofa, in the cubby under the TV, where I stashed the mailing supplies, in the wardrobe, in the closet, in the ironing station, in the green tote, I looked everywhere.  Even in the under carriage, where I knew for a fact it wasn't.  Arrgh...did I mention that we were out on a little peninsula and everything is at least a 5 mile trek back to a main road?  In a diesel truck, at 10 miles to a gallon, at $4 a gallon.  So, just to get to a shopping center (that contains only a small grocery, a dollar store, a beauty salon and 2 restaurants), and back to camp, it would cost $4.  Needless to say, my cheapskate self was not about to just hop in the truck and go searching out a bigger store (such as a quilt shop or Walmart), so my strata got put on hold.  Surely, in all that other stuff, I could find something else to make.  Or maybe, just maybe, I could come up with something else I could use instead of a square ruler.  I considered using my 6 x 24 ruler, but, well, there's math involved, and I just couldn't figure out where my marks were going to be.  And, since I was planning to use a rotary cutter, paper templates were out, as was cardboard.  I'd considered cutting up a cereal box, but then there was that math again, and I had bought (and brought) only just enough fabric to do this topper, so I couldn't afford any cutting mistakes.  I considered getting a couple of pieces of plexiglass cut to measure, but then I figured if I was going to search out someone to cut plexiglass, I might as well just go on to the big-box store and see if they had a ruler like I needed.  I mulled it over for the rest of the day.  The next day, when one of the campers asked me to make a bib for a new baby boy, out of fabric I didn't have on hand, I decided to go ahead and venture out after all.  I found a quilt shop about 13 miles away, and luckily enough, they had both fabric and a Creative Grids 12.5 inch square ruler.   And here is how the table topper turned out:

It's not yet quilted, but I'll wait till we get home to do that, so I can drop my machine into its cabinet.  In the camper, I have the machine sitting on the dining table, so the bed is pretty high and the fabric is not supported or anything, so it pulls and is really hard to keep a straight-line stitch going straight.

So now I've got the table topper done, I've moved on to other sewing projects.  Yesterday, I made an Easter outfit for my youngest granddaughter...I still have the same outfit to make for the older, bigger one.  And two bow-tie/suspender sets, because we can't leave out the grandsons, can we?  Of course not.  And if there's any fabric left over, what little girl wouldn't like a place to keep her hankies or stash a couple of chocolate eggs?  So a purse or two is definitely in order.  Then there's the matter of those 2 quilt tops.  Oh, Lordy, I'm getting tired just thinking about it all.  Maybe I'll just walk the dog then take a nap.  After all, searching for rulers can be exhausting work.  You'd think I'd have just remembered to bring it along in the first place.  Well, ta-ta for now!  Thanks for paying your taxes, Kelly, and doing your part to keep this country afloat!

Kelly it me or did everyone else notice Karin has a lot of words and energy?  LOL...I just adore her and wouldn't mind having some of her energy :)

Taxing Smiles,


  1. Yes, Kelly, she does. I am plum tuckered out just reading that.

  2. I'm so impressed with what Karin can accomplish while "camping" in tight quarters. Very impressed. I've been wanting to make this design for ages. Somewhere in my sewing room is my pattern. LOL!

    Thanks Karin for being a guest post, sharing tips and inspiring.

    Kelly - Hang in their while doing that word which can not be spoken and begins with a T. Not fun, but needs to be done. Reward is big playtime after you are finished. :)


  3. very pretty karin, could you please pass me some energy??

  4. Love thus post Karin! So glad you persevered and got the tools you needed to make this sweet table topper! Now I want to make one!

  5. I really like your table topper and the fact you made it in the trailer is even more impressive. Good job!


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More Later-Beth


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